From Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, finding the helpers | Monday Morning Coffee

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Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Here at the Capital-Star, we’re working hard every day to hold power to account — to make sure that your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent responsibly and transparently in the midst of the gravest public health crisis in decades.

But we also believe that as important as it is to point out problems, it’s equally important to point out the solutions.

That’s why we started our #PennForward project. And it’s why, over the past five or six weeks, we’ve brought you the stories of the helpers — big and small — who are trying to make life a little better in their communities.

In keeping with that, we’d like to call your attention to two efforts: One in Pittsburgh, the other in the Greater Harrisburg area, where folks are working awfully hard to lighten their neighbors’ load during this very trying time.

We’re going to get started right here in central Pennsylvania, with the South Central PA COVID-19 Response Group.

The mutual aid group has sent out 260 care package in recent weeks, rallying 190 volunteers who have prepared meals, assembled and delivered care packages, and reached out to local organizations to get their assistance, one of its organizers, Sam Fullam, of Hellam, York County, wrote in a recent Facebook post:

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Drop-off hubs have been set up in York, as well as in Enola and Mechanicsburg, in Cumberland County. If you’re interested in getting involved, or if you need help, email [email protected], or you can head over to this Google form.

(Image via Flickr Commons)

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, a new public/private partnership is set to deliver 360,000 face masks across the region, according to the Allegheny Conference, on Community Development, which is managing the $750,000 that was raised toward the effort.

The masks are non-medical grade face masks, which aren’t the the N95 masks you’ve been hearing so much about. But organizers said “their use in the right applications allows the limited supply of medical-grade respirators to be allocated where they are needed most.”

The production effort was coordinated through the Mon Valley-based American Textile Company, organizers said in an email late last week. The company also has locations in Georgia, Texas and Utah, as well as El Salvador. The first shipment of 70,000 masks arrived at Allegheny County Airport, via El Salvador, last Thursday, the email reads.

The masks are being distributed through Global Links, a Pittsburgh-based medical relief agency, which is working in concert with the Allegheny County Health Department and the county’s Human Services Department, as well as health departments and human service agencies in surrounding counties, organizers said.

“Through a uniquely Pittsburgh partnership, we are leveraging Global Links’ 30 years of experience in managing and distributing healthcare supplies to get these emergency masks in the hands of those who need them most,” Global Links’ executive director, Angela Garcia, said in a statement. “Protecting the frontline workers who are receiving the masks – the healthcare workers, human and social service workers, nursing home staff and child and senior care providers in our region – is critical to their safety and to our ability to slow the spread of this disease in our community.”

Have an effort you’d like highlighted in this space? Email details to [email protected], or reach out on Twitter: @ByJohnLMicek.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Associate Editor Cassie Miller 
leads our coverage this morning with an analysis of the Pennsylvania counties with the highest and lowest local tax burdens. That’s this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

From the weekend, Erie Correspondent Hannah MacDonald checks in with a local organization that’s trying to help crime victims in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Stephen Caruso finds the respective campaign wings for House Dems and Republicans trading barbs on social media over recent votes to lift Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown orders.

On our Commentary Page this morning, former LG Mark S. Singel would like to redirect your attention to the 2020 White House race, which, of course, is still going on.

Y en la Estrella-Capital: Wolf: Pa. ‘no estará activando un interruptor’ ahora que vuelva a abrir. Y los datos estatales ahora incluirán probables casos y muertes por el COVID-19, dice Levine.

A state liquor store front in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison).

Elsewhere
Pennsylvania’s state-run liquor stores will ‘face a challenge’ with curbside pick-up being expanded to more outlets, the Inquirer reports.
The Post-Gazette explains how an army of ‘medical detectives’ will help the country reopen from the pandemic.
With planting season upon us, there’s new pressure for the state to reopen all garden centersPennLive reports.
Students in the Allentown schools are starting distance learning weeks behind their suburban peers, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM explains why many COVID-19 deaths will never be counted.
Pennsylvania’s coal industry is struggling even further under the lockdown, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.
The Scranton Times-Tribune 
looks at the plight of NEPA nonprofits (paywall).
With the lockdown rolling into its seventh week, the Times-News looks at how life has changed in Erie. 
Will child care be there when parents return to work? Stateline.org takes up the question. 
States can’t go bankrupt — as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says — but they can default on debt, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at 1 p.m. And there’s a full slate of committee action:

Time TBD: Daily COVID-19 briefing.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to long-time readers Stacey Kreideman and Linda Brain Beck, both of whom celebrate today. Congrats.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from the North Carolina alt.country outfit Mercury Dime. It’s ‘Pray for Lockjaw.’ Because everyone needs a weapons-strength dose of lap steel guitar on a Monday morning.

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
This one’s a tad esoteric, but hey, why not? Here’s a look at which days on the calendar have seen the most no-hitters.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.